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Media company conducts interview with Tissue Depot consultant Ron Van Den Heuvel

CHEBOYGAN, Mich., (From news reports) -- UpNorthLive News in Michigan has been digging into concerns surrounding the Great Lakes Tissue Plant, now known as the Tissue Depot.

The updates have taken us inside the plant and inside the courtroom.

And now we have an exclusive interview with the man behind much of the controversy.

Ron Van Den Heuvel is listed as a consultant on Tissue Depot documents.

And when we asked the plant about his involvement, we were told that consulting was all he did.

But after talking with him on Wednesday, his stake in this facility is much bigger than we knew.

"I owned it before and I sold it to these people," said Van Den Heuvel.

"I said, I will bring this technology in, here's this equipment, and I'll borrow, on my name, $5 million dollars. You get this cleaned up," Van Den Heuvel said.

Van Den Heuvel was convicted of fraud in Wisconsin and handed a 7.5-year prison sentence in 2019.

He was released during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest in Cheboygan.

"You can look at the papers, you can look up everything about me. Google me and it looks like I'm Attila the Hun okay. But I'm not," Van Den Heuvel said.

Van Den Heuvel, an engineer by trade, acknowledged his past and said for those concerned about his involvement, to look at this previous work.

"Well I say to them, look at my record in tissue," Van Den Heuvel said. "I've done 46 of the last 56 tissue machines built in the United States. Not one with a problem."

But when you look at his most recent history, you'll see a record of fraud, and concerns about that following him here.

In the last few months, there have been unpaid bills, a $2 million lawsuit regarding leased equipment and a collapsing building.

Van Den Heuvel said the team at the Tissue Depot has paid of their debts to the city.

He also said the new ownership team was lied to by previous owners about the plant's financial situation.

"We didn't know about the Sertant loan," Van Den Heuvel said. "The people that I'm working for... that I want to work for, didn't know about the Sertant loan. It wasn't disclosed to them."

"So when they came in here and all of the sudden the checkbook was over drafted by a local lady, $164,000 at a local bank, that's a lot of money," Van Den Heuvel said.

And he said it hasn't gotten much easier since.

"To say it didn't hurt us a lot, it did," Van Den Heuvel said.

According to him, right now the plant isn't shut down and ownership is fighting to keep it open.

"Hopefully, we can get this collective group of owners and hopefully we can get enough money to pay off Sertant and the other issues and clean up and go forward," Van Den Heuvel said.

He said the Tissue Depot is working with Sertant to let them in the plant for a court ordered inspection of the leased equipment.

And according to court documents, that has to happen by Thursday, April 27.

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